Folk songs strive for popularity

Young musicians and producers are driving the music industry, but many artists said their work, while popular, lacks gravitas and is too focused on love themes.

folk songs strive for popularity hinh 0

Young musicians prefer to create soft music about loneliness and unrequited love, musician Phan Long said at a recent seminar held by the HCM City Music Association.

"Some singers and their producers boast they have discovered new genres, but their tunes are copies or variations of American and Korean songs,” he said. 

"It’s fine to learn from foreign countries but local musicians should choose songs that preserve national characteristics.”

Musician Nguyen Quang Vinh, vice chairman of the association, called for revitalising music in the country.

"I enjoy new music by young musicians like Nguyen Vinh Tien and Le Minh Son in Hanoi and Nguyen Van Chung and The Hien in HCM City. Many of their songs are based on folk music that combines pop and folk,” he said.  

However, he said that in large love songs and sentimental lyrics dominating the music market.

More than 50 musicians, composers, producers and critics, including stalwarts like Khanh Vinh and Nguyen Ngoc Thien, who were instrumental in developing Vietnamese music, attended the seminar.

Romantic creations by composers Vo Thien Thanh, Thanh Tam and Phuong Uyen have given a fresh and exciting dimension to the music scene.  

They have used folk music and pop to attract young and old audience alike. 

Their albums of traditional folk music recorded by singers like Cam Ly, Thanh Thuy and Uyen Trang have often climbed to the top of the charts voted by HCM City Radio’s FM Channel and music online forums, usually a few weeks after being released.  

Singer Thuy of the Military Zone 7 Art Troupe, said: "I was born and grew up with folk tunes. I hope my songs will encourage younger generations to discover and love the music." 

"While music comes and goes quickly from the market, no one can deny folk songs’ endurance in praising of the country, its people and their lives," the 40-year-old said. 

Thuy is part of the generation of veteran singers like Ai Xuan and Quang Ly who, with their strong and sweet voices, were favourites of millions of people around the region when they performed folk songs on radio and TV in the 1980s and 1990s.

Thuy’s songs, mostly written by talented musicians and songwriters such as Luu Nhat Vu and An Thuyen, encouraged young people to dedicate their lives to a more noble purpose.

Music producers and showrunners, however, do not often invite folk singers to sing in their shows.

Thuy and her colleagues have difficulties finding a position in the country’s entertainment market.

“I have never given up my music,” said Trang, winner of the 2011 Mai Vang (Golden Apricot) Award for Best Singer in folk music launched annually by the city’s Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper.  

“I believe that people are wrong to think that youngsters are only interested in hearing songs about the pain of love and rebellion."

"We have a huge number of fans around the country, from different backgrounds, who love to listen to romantic and folk music," said the promising talent.

Trang whipped up a storm among fans, old and young, when she recorded the revolutionary Co gai Sai Gon di tai dan (Female Ammunition Bearer who Comes from Saigon) composed by Luu Nhat Vu, on her first album of traditional and folk music called Dong song va tieng hat (River and The Voice), released in 2015. 

The album is still a hit on online music forums.

Her success shocked many singers who seem to prefer pop and rock songs.

According to Cam Ly, who has more than 20 years in singing folk music, a big problem is that singers lack quality folk songs.

“While pop-dance singers have many choices, we have so few. Young musicians prefer creating more fashionable songs than traditional tunes because it’s easier to reach fame,” she said.

Ly said music producers should invest in both people and facilities to produce more quality products featuring romantic folk and country songs.

"TV stations and music show organisers need to pay decent royalties to artists who write and perform traditional music", she added.

VNA

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